For such a nicely named town Pleasant Point has endured its times of trial arising from fire, pestilence, flood and drought.
Fires were not uncommon within the business community. On the corner that was then known as Nelligan’s block (he being the proprietor at the time) stood the original Railway Hotel which was burnt down on 30th January 1911. History records a crowd of some 1500 people flocked to witness the blaze, locals being joined by motor car and taxi cab parties who came from Timaru to view the spectacle. Apparently the largest fire to be seen in South Canterbury for a long time.
This destructive fire started on the ground floor of the Hotel in Chisholm’s grocery and spread rapidly through the adjoining buildings completely destroying the hotel.
A ‘Bucket Brigade’ fought the fire until an old manual fire engine drawn by four horses from Glennie’s Stables of Timaru, 12 miles away, arrived on the scene but, by then, all was lost. The Brigade was able to prevent the fire spreading into the neighbouring McKibben’s store.
Following the fire, a tin shed was quickly erected to serve as a bar, this meant the licence could be retained. As soon as possible a new hotel was built on the site.
A report in the Timaru Herald on 5 August, 1911 describes: “The completion of a first class hotel of forty rooms complete with Billiard room of latest design and its own power-house to generate electricity for lighting.”
Seen on the corner site today, Nelligan's Railway Hotel, is a handsome and solid looking brick building, very striking with its black painted plaster detailing.
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